Classified as heavy frigates, ships of the Steamrunner class featured a large sensor pallet which made it ideal for scientific research and spatial phenomena cataloging. Its large primary hull had large scientific areas to fit this purpose, but also diplomatic suites and an ample shuttlebay complex. While Steamrunner wasn’t the best starship at any one role, it’s versatility made it a very well liked starship class, both to Starfleet Command and to its crews.
Among the first Steamrunner-class vessels completed on Copernicus Fleet Yards in 2373, its shakedown cruise on the outskirts of the Sol system coincided with the Borg incursion into Federation space, and Appalachia proved instrumental in the hours leading up to the Battle of Sector 001.
With only a skeleton crew on board, the ship shadowed the cube at maximum sensor distance and took detailed readings before the rest of the fleet was in a position to attack. This tactical information proved the basis for Vice Admiral Hayes' battle plan. After finishing repairs following the battle, Appalachia was properly commissioned and placed under the command of Captain Ahmed al-Rashid.